Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Video Of The Week: Me, Mom & Morgentaler

As curator and organizer of UnPop Montréal and a bit of a music history nerd, I'm often asked what I think are the best or most influential acts ever from Montréal, and before I try to name any from the top of my head, I like to remind my interlocutor that we're probably not going to be talking ''successful in terms of dollars earned or albums sold'', although there is still some kind of validity to that, but if it were the case, acts such as Men Without Hats, Céline Dion, Murray Head, Aldo Nova and Gino Vanelli might have to be part of the conversation, as would April Wine.

In terms of raw talent and social impact, the jazz musicians of yore like Oscar Peterson, Oliver Jones and Charles Biddle, and then Guy ''Buddy Poor'' Nadon and his generation, followed by Uzeb in the1980s; Voivod revolutionized metal.

In terms of influence over other acts, of making kids want to pick up an instrument, Asexuals and American Devices influenced the whole 1980s, but for kids my age and maybe even a bit younger, as we became teens in the 1990s, Me, Mom & Morgentaler was almost alone for a long time, maybe with Jean Leloup, who despite singing in French was in tune with the anglos.

Leloup and MMM sang in at least two languages - three almost full-time for MMM - and mixed ska, rock and rockabilly with a punk/DIY attitude that was made to transcend the ages, with Me Mom paving the way for ska-influenced millionaire acts like No Doubt and Sublime and a whole wave of Montréal ska bands in the mid-to-late 90s (such as The Kingpins, Planet Smashers and the like).

But by that time they'd disbanded, many of the band members having moved, either to the U.S. (Gus Van Go went to NYC to become a world-famous producer - The Stills, The Trews, Vulgaires Machins, Priestess - who said I should send him some demos 5 years ago... oups! - and also had a really good band called Smitty's; Noah Green formed 2 Skinnee J's in NYC as well), or elsewhere in Canada, while Kim Bingham moved to Vancouver to form Mudgirl and The Kim Band, before releasing French-language music for TV show Les Invincibles and playing in David Usher and Nelly Furtado's bands and collaborating with Bran Van 3000.

They had 3 releases but just one official studio album, 1993's Shiva Space Machine, which was re-released in ''special edition'' form in 2007 to go with the 1991 live EP Clown Heaven & Hell and the 1995 compilation We Are Revolting, which borrowed 3 songs from the Clown EP to go with other live and rare tracks.

They left us only with a couple of videos, but they were at their best live anyway, costumed freaks with surprising musical abilities, able to wake a party even in a funeral home. Here is one of the videos, Your Friend:

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